I had a solid group of friends that cared for each other. Some of us were closer than others and that spurred conflict within our ranks. My friends, Vivian and Julia were especially close. They would giggle and they had inside jokes that no one else knew about. One day we saw Vivian sitting alone, apart from the rest of us. I asked Julia, “Hey Jules, what’s going on with Vivian? Are you guys OK?” She sighed and rolled her eyes as if I would never understand. She then told us the whole story. Vivian had gotten a boyfriend recently—since we were only in 8th grade, this was unheard of. We weren’t shocked that she had gotten with this guy, he was practically the only thing she talked about. But Julia had gotten so fed up and disgusted by how Vivian talked about him that she told her to shut up. Everyone was on Julia’s side but I wasn’t as quick to judge. I knew that Vivian had anxiety so I tried not to make it worse. Since the rest of my friends weren’t talking to her, it was up to me to be her friend. I went over to her house on the weekends but that wasn’t enough to sustain a solid friendship.
We all lost touch and about six months after this happened, we were surprised to hear that Vivian hadn’t been at school at all because of her anxiety. We thought it was all our fault and that we had driven her to some kind of breakdown. We started trying to reconnect. We invited her to events and we often went to her house and tried to squeeze as much quality time in together as possible. I had to push forward and talk to her on the phone and ask about her social life. I felt so guilty, thinking about how I might have ruined her life, that I just pushed past the pain of listening to her talk about herself for hours and hours. I had to seem interested, even though she never asked me any questions and just talked about herself. If I helped her get better, that would make me feel better about where I was. Newly rebuilt relationships should be stronger and more sustainable than the relationship before it. We shouldn’t rebuild our relationships to the same shaky ground that it was built on before, because then the relationship will collapse again. We should build on a solid foundation to ensure that our relationship is strong.
Rebuilding can take time and, in some cases, coming together as a community. After the horrible Napa county fire in California wrecked houses and communities, many people are trying to rebuild, people like Brandon Jorgensen. He wrote on Curbed San Francisco, “There is no way for me to just leave the community here just because it is too smoky; this is the time to stay rooted. To help. Because it is in these times that the community really comes together.” Jorgensen is an architect who has plans to rebuild his community that was destroyed by the flames. He says that he cannot leave when everything gets the most heated because that is when the community gets together and rebuilds. “A disaster can show us how meaningful architecture truly is. Architects are trained to look at detail, to think ahead.” As a community, we should talk to climate scientists so that we can be better prepared for the next time fires sweep through. We can also can learn about what the drought is doing to our neighborhoods and figure out how to better equipped for the next disaster that we will face. Rebuilding takes the entire community coming together to do their part and to be prepared for the next event.
“When two people come together with different life histories, sensitivities, and current stresses, you are bound to bump up against each other or get blown off track over the course of a many-year relationship.” wrote Melanie Greenberg Ph.D., a mindful self-express expert on Psychology Today. In any sort of relationship, people have to have at least some conflict. People all come from different backgrounds and have experienced different things. When getting “blown off track,” you must repair that damage by accepting a mistake and forgiving, because that’s the only way to move forward; if you’re not moving forward then you are rebuilding a relationship on a lie that will show up later. This is especially true in romantic relationships and marriages. Greenberg also writes, “If there are unresolved trust issues that hamper your ability to love your partner freely, think about the next steps you could take to air these issues and what it would take to rebuild trust.” Rebuilding trust means letting go of the judgement and the worry. Trust is something that needs to be earned. Your partner must want to have a close relationship with you. In order to repair a relationship, trust needs to be both ways.
I’m working on rebuilding my relationship with Vivian in the right way. In order to create a relationship that will last, I’m making sure it goes both ways. Instead of being absent or being annoyed by her, I try to be positive and bring the topic back to what’s happening in the moment. The fires showed me that I have to build back my relationship even stronger to be prepared for the next challenge. I plan to do more activities with her and hopefully we will have experiences we can talk about that are new and exciting. Given our current situations, being freshmen in highschool, we are experiencing different things and we are really becoming different people, so I should be expecting challenges, but the more I prepare, the better equipped I am to handle them.